Former U.S. Homeland Security Chief: iPhone override would be software equivalent of biological weapon

“Forcing Apple to write an operating system so it can try to break into the iPhone used by a terrorist is the computer code equivalent of building a biological weapon, the former Secretary of U.S. Homeland Security said Thursday,” Elizabeth Weise reports for USA Today.

“The problem is that the FBI demand would require Apple to not only build the code, but also maintain it, because there are already multiple requests for law enforcement to get into other phones, Michael Chertoff said Thursday at the RSA computer security conference,” Weise reports. “‘Once you’ve created code that’s potentially compromising, it’s like a bacteriological weapon. You’re always afraid of it getting out of the lab,’ Chertoff said at a keynote panel titled ‘Beyond Encryption: Why We Can’t Come Together on Security and Privacy — and the Catastrophes That Await If We Don’t.'”

“Apple CEO Tim Cook used another medical analogy when he spoke with ABC News after the FBI’s demand became public,” Weise reports. “The only way to get the information would be to write software ‘that we view as sort of the equivalent of cancer,’ he said. ‘We believe that is a very dangerous operating system.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Exactly.

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! – Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Visit the Apple-backed today.

U.S. Congressman introduces bill to forbid federal agencies from purchasing Apple products until company unlocks terrorist’s iPhone – March 3, 2016
Apple is racking up supporters in privacy fight against U.S. government overreach – March 3, 2016
Husband of San Bernardino terrorism victim backs Apple vs. U.S. government overreach – March 3, 2016
Over 40 companies to back Apple vs. U.S. government overreach; beleaguered Samsung still thinking about it – March 3, 2016
Apple posts amicus briefs in support of Apple vs. U.S. government overreach – March 3, 2016
U.S. Defense Secretary says strong encryption essential to national security, not a believer in back doors – March 3, 2016
Apple digs in for long fight against U.S. government overreach: ‘There is no middle ground’ – March 3, 2016
ACLU, other privacy groups urge U.S. judge to support Apple vs. U.S. government in iPhone case – March 2, 2016
Apple scored the knockout punch against FBI in House Judiciary Committee hearing – March 2, 2016
Within an hour of Malaysia Flight 370 disappearing, Apple was working with officials to locate it – March 2, 2016
John McAfee reveals how the FBI can unlock an iPhone in 30 minutes – March 2, 2016
Can the FBI force a company to break into its own products? No, says U.S. Magistrate – March 2, 2016
Apple CEO Cook decried Obama’s ‘lack of leadership’ on encryption during a closed-door meeting last month – February 29, 2016
Obama administration set to expand sharing of data that N.S.A. intercepts – February 28, 2016
Apple’s fight with U.S. could speed development of devices impervious to government intrusion – February 24, 2016
Petition asks Obama administration to stop demanding Apple create iPhone backdoor – February 19, 2016
Obama administration claims FBI is not asking Apple for a ‘backdoor’ to the iPhone – February 18, 2016
Obama administration wants access to smartphones – December 15, 2015
Obama administration war against Apple just got uglier – July 31, 2015
Obama’s secret attempt to ban cellphone unlocking, while claiming to support it – November 19, 2013


    1. I am an Obama supporter, however on this and the NSA I have been very disappointed. The problem started with Bush and the Congress after 911. Bush made a huge power grab. The original plan was called “Total Information Awareness”. In a free society that is too dangerous. Congress did little to stop it except for a name change and some token safeguards. They gave the White House abilities to spy on their political rivals. What they weren’t thinking is if they lose power that gives the Democratics, Independents, whoever that power too. I can understand Obama, or any president, not wanting to loose this, however it is wrong. Giving the people power through privacy has been one of the greatest things about America. Yes there is a down side, as with everything, but we are a stronger nation because of it. I can’t believe how many people who complain about gun control are against Apple. If anyone actually believes that having guns will protect them from the government more than unreadable files they are stupid; the government has tanks and helicopters. They deserve the concentration camps they will be put in. Unfortunately they will get me, and you, thrown in as well.

  1. What an great metaphor. “Once you’ve created code that’s potentially compromising, it’s like a bacteriological weapon. You’re always afraid of it getting out of the lab.”

    1. Agreed. And then I thought, what really keeps the biologicals in the lab is that they are no good for stealing, only killing, and rather indiscriminately at that. This code on the other hand…

    1. Unfortunately, as in many other important matters, our politicians are driven more by what they feel will score them points with their ideologically or fear driven constituents than they are by listening to scientific fact or expert opinion. The scientific and technological illiteracy in the US extends all the way to the US congress, which is a frightening thing to consider. Many in congress are incapable of making good decisions because they have no understanding of the underlying issues or long-term ramifications.

  2. That Patrick Henry, what a great politician, yup, give him liberty or give him death. don’t mention that he is also recorded to have purchased up to 78 slaves.

    That’s what happens if you give liberty to types like that, they’ll take it away from others. It’s a national pastime and a threat to global security.

    You know what happens when this country finds a new weapon, they use it. Oh a dormant cyber pathogen that can be used as a biological weapon, that’s more potent than viagra for this lot.

    1. Yeah, that’s the ticket. You should always judge historic persons according to today’s standards. If they fail in any point, then they should be tossed out, deleted from history, made non-persons.

      That’s the ticket, all right. Perspective is overrated; if they’re not perfect in any way, they’re trash.

      I weep for this generation.

      1. Thanks for your post steveH. The quote is good, and I guess historically it was OK to have slaves at one point. By today’s standards though, slavery is a no no but the message I made about removing the freedom from others is applicable today to that nation that keeps innocent people incarcerated and tortures them at the Guantanamo Resort on the Bay.

        There are many ways to remove freedom from others, and it’s still a national pastime, even by today’s standards.

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